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Topic: Book smells bad - what to do??

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Subject: Book smells bad - what to do??
Date Posted: 7/7/2009 4:34 PM ET
Member Since: 2/19/2009
Posts: 439
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I received a WL book that has a strong, musty odor that is quite offensive. The book pages are yellow/brown and it is obvious this has been stored in a musty basement or somewhere for a long time. I PM'd the sender and very nicely told her what the problem was. I used wording I found in PBS guidelines about politely stating the problem, asking for my credit back and offering to return the book if she would reimburse the postage. Her reply back was that she did not notice an odor and would refund my credit if I returned it at my expense.

I do not see anything in the guidelines regarding "smelly" books. I do have conditions set on my requests regarding smoke as I am allergic to it and cannot tolerate a smoky smelling book. I never would have posted this book myself to send to anyone else.

I did reply back to her that I did not feel it was fair for me to incur the expense of returning this what I consider "unpostable" book. I told her to do what she felt was right and I am still waiting for a reply to that. I'm just wondering what anyone else thinks about this situation and what you would do?? Should I list it as RWAP?

Thanks for your help!

Date Posted: 7/7/2009 4:55 PM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
Posts: 36,445
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No its not a RWAP since you do not have an RC stating anything but smokey books. She is not required to refund your credit either if the books meets the posting guidelines (smell is not one of them).

Best thing to do would be to place the book in a bag of activated charcoal and see if the helps reduce the smell.

Date Posted: 7/7/2009 5:10 PM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
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Is the book stained or just an old book turning yellow?

Date Posted: 7/7/2009 5:18 PM ET
Member Since: 8/10/2005
Posts: 4,599
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There isn't a guideline in the postability requirements that addresses smells. If the yellowed/brown pages are *stained* then yes, it could be RWAP. If they are just faded or changed with age, not a problem. If there is obvious MOLD that you can see, then yes it is unpostable. But if it just smells bad, unless you have a Requestor Condition in place, you really can't legitimately ask for a credit back. Or, I suppose you could ask, but technically it's not a RWAP

Cheryl

Date Posted: 7/7/2009 6:56 PM ET
Member Since: 2/19/2009
Posts: 439
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It doesn't appear stained - just turning yellow/brown from age. So, from what everyone is saying is that this book is considered postable and I should not have a problem posting it to someone else? And I should amend my conditions to include "musty smelling" as something I do not want. Although, in this case, the sender states she did not notice a smell so she probably would have sent it to me anyway even if my conditions did say that.

Oh well, thank you for your feedback - I think I will repost and put myself back on the WL for a better copy. Sigh...........

Marilyn

Date Posted: 7/7/2009 7:59 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,423
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Put it in black plastic in the sun with an odor absorbant like charcoal or baking soda.   This helps dry the book and remove the smell.  It will not solve it.  But it will help.  At least then you will feel better when you post it.

Sandra (dru) -
Date Posted: 7/7/2009 8:17 PM ET
Member Since: 1/20/2006
Posts: 508
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While not technically unpostable, why would you want to send a book to someone else that you describe as having a strong, musty odor that is quite offensive? 

"If you feel your book falls into a "grey area", you can either post the book and send a Personal Message to the requestor, or not post the book.  We have delineated what we can, and we expect members to follow these guidelines, and use their common sense in cases that are unclear.  If you would not mind "paying" a credit for a book you are considering posting, then it is probably okay to post. "

I  think this is  one of those times you have to decide to just not post the book.



Last Edited on: 7/7/09 8:19 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/7/2009 10:05 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,423
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I just have to pipe in and say that not everyone has the same nose.  The sender did not think it was smelly.  The OP did.  With mold, smoke and perfume, what I think is stinky and unreadable is often fine for others.  If you put a fabric softener sheet with a book my mom will think it's lovely and I'll think the book is ruined forever.  Getting used books is a gamble that I'm willing to risk.

Of course, because of this I often get books I cannot read that are quite postable.  I just eat the credit as I know my nose is sensitive.  And without a RC about smell, I think the OP needs to accept that she will be out this book credit as it isn't fair to ask for one back without a RC.

Date Posted: 7/7/2009 10:37 PM ET
Member Since: 7/21/2006
Posts: 56
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Just chiming in here with a question--what the heck does RWAP actually mean?

Date Posted: 7/7/2009 10:44 PM ET
Member Since: 6/25/2007
Posts: 5,637
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RWAP= Received With a Problem
Sandra (dru) -
Date Posted: 7/7/2009 11:07 PM ET
Member Since: 1/20/2006
Posts: 508
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I don't mean to sound like I am telling Marilyn what to do, that is clearly her decision.  I am just offering my opinion that if the book is truly that offensive she might want to think about it before posting the book.

 

Date Posted: 7/8/2009 1:16 AM ET
Member Since: 12/9/2007
Posts: 9,601
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An alternative is to post it in the Book Bazaar detailing its problems and see if anyone is interested enough to give you a credit for it.

I had just this problem come up twice in the last couple of weeks.  One book really was smelling like mildew - it was a HC that's 25 years old and had been stored in a shed.  Not so happy about it, but I let it go since I didn't have an RC about it and no real proof.  The sender said she'd check her books more carefully in the future. 

Today I'm offered a book that "has a musty smell".  I decided that if the sender was PM-ing me about it it probably wouldn't be a good choice for me.  So I declined but suggested that if she was concerned enough about it she should post it in the Book Bazaar detailing the book's problems to see if any one would give her a credit for it.  She thanked me for the suggestion.  Don't know if she'll do it.  There were 9 on the WL for it. 

The first book I got I have completely separated from any of my other books just in case there are mildew or mold spores.  Then I went to Amazon and bought one used which cost me just $4.25 and smells fine.  It's 25 years old, too.

Ruth

Date Posted: 7/8/2009 12:33 PM ET
Member Since: 2/19/2009
Posts: 439
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Well, gang. I agreed with Emily that everyone's noses and sensitivities are different. I do tend to be more sensitive than others. I did post the book and as it was WL'd it was accepted right away. I PM'd the PO and told her what the situation was with the smell. Much to my surprise, she said it was not a problem - she lives in a dry climate and would just air it out if it bothered her too much.

So, thank you all for comments and discussions! If you check out my bookshelf, you will get nice, clean copies of books with NO smells or problems. Most of my books I purchase at book sales or thrif stores and only when they are in very good to excellent condition. I like to keep nice, newer books rotating through this system. :)

Marilyn

Date Posted: 7/8/2009 1:56 PM ET
Member Since: 6/20/2007
Posts: 4,979
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I post a lot of older books, many old enough that I have to post without an ISBN.  So long as the books meet postability requirements, I post them, and I've found that the hardcovers especially get requested pretty quickly.  Only once did I have a problem where the recipient said that she expected a "sweet-smelling" book (her exact phrase), and was disappointed to find that the book was yellowed with age.  The book was 47 years old!  IMHO if someone is requesting an older book, they should expect the book to be yellowed.  If someone has an issue with smells, they should have an RC that says as much, because there are no posting guidelines related to smells (except for mildew/mold).  I post and request a lot of older books, most of which have some degree of yellowing, and rarely has it been an issue.  Thankfully I've found that most people, when requesting an older book, seem to expect/accept some yellowing as normal.

Date Posted: 7/8/2009 5:05 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,423
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RCs about smell are very difficult to word.  Smell is so subjective.  And what smells great to one person (like perfume or dryer sheets) can trigger a headache in another.  I always sniff books at the used book store.  But we are really gambling on book smells when swapping.  It is a risk. 

I do have a large area for books to sit with baking soda.  And some turn around and go straight out without even being allowed in my house. 

Date Posted: 7/9/2009 1:19 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
Posts: 67
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Last Edited on: 6/9/10 4:55 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/9/2009 5:03 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2005
Posts: 2,354
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"I don't want a smelly book" is incredibly subjective.  PLEASE try to make your RCs something I can check for.  Otherwise, please be prepared to have it turned down even more frequently by people who don't like subjective or simply can't tell.

I can't tell smells. I'm allergic to musty books and I only figure it out when I realize I'm stuffed up while reading.

To borrow examples from non-smoking RC:

"Not in a currently smoking environment" (objective)

"Never been in a smoking environment" (objective, if very restrictive)

"Does not smell like smoke" (subjective. How should I know?  My nose is horrible.  Going to be declined unless a smell-sensitive friend happens to be nearby when I get the request.)

 

imwillow - ,
Subject: Book Bazaar
Date Posted: 7/9/2009 8:08 PM ET
Member Since: 5/29/2007
Posts: 26
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What is the Book Bazaar? Is there a link to it?

Willow

Date Posted: 7/9/2009 8:59 PM ET
Member Since: 12/9/2007
Posts: 9,601
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The Book Bazaar is a forum listed below this one on the Discussion Forums menu under the community tab.

Ruth

imwillow - ,
Subject: Yeah I found it
Date Posted: 7/9/2009 9:28 PM ET
Member Since: 5/29/2007
Posts: 26
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Took me a few minutes to figure out where it was but I did finally find it

Thanks

Willow

Date Posted: 7/11/2009 4:20 AM ET
Member Since: 5/25/2008
Posts: 106
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Just a suggestion I have gotten a few older books that smelled a bit off. I stick them in my incense cabinet for a few weeks. Then they smell good to me. I keep them or bring them to my free paperback room at the base library.

Date Posted: 7/13/2009 5:15 PM ET
Member Since: 2/9/2007
Posts: 115
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I had a similar situation a while back...the requestor didn't want a book from a smoking environment. Mine is not but I stuck my nose in the book and it smelled musty/mildewy (word?) so I PMd her thinking that if she is like a lot of allergy sufferers, mildew/mold is a common co-allergy with those who are allergic to cigarette/cigar etc smoke.  Sure enough, she said that she couldn't be around mold or mildew either and thanked me for giving her a heads up. She canceled the transaction.  I have YET to have a RWAP and don't want one (although odds are that somewhere down the line it will happen).  I have a few friends who are allergic to perfumes so I am conscious of that type of smell for those who request no smoking environment books...I'll let them know if it smells perfumey too.  Sad, isn't it, that allergies do this to us?  I am grateful that the few things that bother me are pollen-related. :)  Rant: hubby and I have sensitive skins and it is SO hard to find products that are fragrance-free, like laundry detergent, fabric softener sheets (there is one brand out there we found and use), even deodorant...I don't want my deodorant to have a fragrance!!  If you bought all these products with fragrances, you'd smell like potpourri! lol